Last week I posted on one of MacDonald’s science fiction novels and earlier had posted on another. I decided I might as well get the third one out of the way as well. BALLROOM OF THE SKIES appeared in 1951.
The time is sometime in the distant future, in the late 1970s, and WW III happened in the recent past. The United States has been reduced to a second rate country allied with the Pak-India Federation. The other power in the world is a coalition of Irania and China. Tensions in the world are high and World War IV seems right around the corner.
An idealistic young man named Dake Lorin is one of those working to stop it. He’d taken a year long leave of absence to help Darwin Branson work out some sort of peace accords with all the nations. Just as that seems about to happen, he witnesses Branson accept watered down conciliations from Irania. He knows that will cause the other nations to start waffling.
Determined to reveal this betrayal, Dake is frustrated at every turn. No paper wants to run his story. They’re afraid of government interference. One wants a large sum to run it and then backs out at the last second. When he tries to write the story, his fingers type gibberish. He sees the keys start to bleed. Trying to write by pen is no easier. It becomes to hot to handle.
What’s causing all these telepathetic hallucinations? He comes to realize the human race is being watched. Captured he’s taken off-world and trained in certain mental arts. Returned to Earth, he finds he’s on a wanted list and slated for trial when captured.
He escapes from his alien captors and goes on the run, trying to find someone who can help him show the world they are being manipulated. And Dake has yet to learn what’s really going on.
Not prime MacDonald, this still puts the book ahead of a lot of others. Remember, this was 1951, just when paranoia was rampant in this country. McCarthy was gearing up for one of the most shameful periods this country has been through in recent memory.
Although, if you think about it, the general theme pervaded the last administration’s dealings with American citizens. If you’re not with us, then you must be against us. One wonders what the future will look back and think about this era of America.